Jadav Payeng, the ‘Forest Man’ of India who planted an entire forest on his own

New Delhi (NVI): He planted one tree every day and then continued it for the next 37 years. Now, an island destroyed by years of flooding along the Brahmaputra river in eastern Assam is converted into a lush green forest where wildlife has thrived, with tigers and elephants often seen.

Meet Jadav Payeng, the Forest Man of India from Majuli, who was honoured with Padma Shri in 2015 for his tireless efforts. In March this year, Jadav received the 128th Commonwealth Points of Light award, which includes a certificate signed by Queen Elizabeth II, for his exceptional voluntary service to environmental conservation.

Payeng started his extraordinary journey in 1979 when he was just 16-years-old. He encountered a large number of snakes that had died due to excessive heat after floods washed them onto the tree-less sandbar along the Brahmaputra river. That is when he planted around 20 bamboo seedlings on the sandbar.

Concerned over the rise in temperature in the sandbar, Payeng started trees on his own and quietly transformed the piece of land into a forest. A part of the sandbar also lies in the famous Majuli island in Assam.

To plant a tee every day, he would walk for 20 minutes, take a boat to cross the river, then walk another 2 hours to reach the place. This has been the forest man’s daily routine for all these years.

Thanks to Jadav’s efforts, the land is now a paradise for biodiversity, including endangered Royal Bengal tiger and vultures. However, Jadav’s journey has not ended yet and he plans to plant 5,000 acres of more trees on Majuli.

Meanwhile, the Assam floods, which have wreaked havoc in the entire region, have affected his own house. A video is going viral on social media in which Jadav is seen walking in front of his house in knee-deep waters.

The video, originally shared by Manoranjan Pegu, was retweeted by Naveed Trumboo, an Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officer.

-ARK